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Small business owners show optimism amid COVID-19: RPT

Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi discuss how small businesses are faring amid COVID-10 with Capital One Head of Business Brand, Jenn Garbach.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Stocks under pressure this morning amid elevated signs of coronavirus throughout the country, and in Europe in fact. This has led to a number of restrictions on business activity in Europe. And the fear is that could happen here in the US and be another blow to this economic recovery.

And of course, caught up in all of this are small businesses. They are showing surprising optimism, though, during COVID-19. That is the sentiment captured in Capital One's Fall 2020 Small Business Survey.

Jenn Garbach is Capital One Head of Business Brand. She joins us now to discuss. Hi, Jenn. I guess we should tell folks, this survey was taken a few weeks ago. I guess it's from mid-September. But still, small business owners feeling pretty good about the future, are they?

JENN GARBACH: They are. Thanks for having me this morning. What's really interesting is, as we went to market in partnership with Morning Consult recently, we surveyed 1,500 different small business owners and financial decision-makers, given the rapidly changing environment around us, to really understand a snapshot of how are they feeling about the health of their business and sentiment towards their return to growth in the marketplace.

And what's really interesting is, overarchingly, we see a return to optimism, with most businesses indicating that they believe that business conditions are returning to some form of normal in their local area and over 80% of businesses indicating that they think that they will still be in business through the end of the year.

BRIAN SOZZI: How are-- these 1,500 small businesses, how are they feeling about 2021? Do they think they can survive in this environment until next year?

JENN GARBACH: Yeah. Overarchingly, what's surprising to us is the positive sentiment that came out of this survey, right? And it's a bit counterintuitive and surprising.

I think what we're really seeing as a result of this survey is a couple of things. One, business owners are looking at disruptions that they experienced at the beginning of the pandemic-- a lot of supply chain disruptions, the inability to get the supplies and the inventory that they needed to maintain their business. And they're seeing that start to normalize.

Now, we definitely want to keep our eyes on that, because we head into the holiday season. We know how quickly things can change. But I think they're experiencing some element of stability that is driving that optimism.

We've also seen businesses really successfully pivot in many instances-- so whether that's been pivoting to e-commerce, adopting more digital marketing to find new ways to connect with their customers. We're also seeing the polarities kind of across different industries. So there are some industries-- like parts of construction, landscaping, the pet industry-- that are actually thriving in this environment.

And there are others that are probably more obvious around retail, restaurants that have been heavier hit. But even those businesses are now finding new ways to stay open, to meet the new capacity restrictions, to pivot to to-go and order models. And I think that is driving a bunch of the sentiment that we are seeing as we're closing out the year.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Jenn, I have to say, I was a little surprised to find that more than 80% of those that you surveyed said they were able to either keep or increase the number of employees that they have during this very difficult time. Did they say that was directly because of stimulus and support coming from the government? And did they talk at all about the need for another stimulus package?

JENN GARBACH: You know, what the survey showed us is there absolutely a population of customers-- or business owners, rather-- that found the much needed assistance that they needed through programs like the Paycheck Protection Program and other financial support. But that was really only about 50% of survey respondents who indicated that that level of financial support is the thing that was driving them.

The other interesting thing that emerged through this survey was recognizing how much business owners are relying on their personal network-- their peers, other trusted advisors-- and looking for that consult and guidance on how they've pivoted, how they can pursue additional training and really support them through that time. So what we're seeing is a combination of some folks reaching out and taking advantage of that financial support, and others more so really tapping into their network of trusted advisors to help them through this time.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, we're going to leave it there. Jenn Garbach, Capital One Head of Business Brand. Thanks so much for being with us.

JENN GARBACH: Thanks for your time.